Bruce Recommends

I've always been a fiction kind of guy: some escapist fantasy, a good lingering horror story or some captivating character development over the long haul. Sign me up! But something happened about a year ago, a switch turned on, and I have been all in on non-fiction. Why is this? Not sure, but what it has been is a tonic for tunnel vision! Breaking the same old and expanding my mind.

Non-fiction opens our eyes to what's around us and makes us see our potential and what we can accomplish, how we can transcend trauma and see the beauty in the world all around us.

This is a list of some of the more recent books I've read with a bit of a Canadian bend and covering an eclectic range of topics such as ecology, the truth and reconciliation experience, and ultra-athletes.

One Native Life Book JacketOne Native Life by Richard Wagamese

"Stories are meant to heal. That's what my people say, and it's what I believe. Culling these stories has taken me a long way down the healing path from the trauma I carried. This book is a look back at one native life, at the people, the places, and the events that have helped me find my way to peace again, to stand in the sunshine with my beautiful partner, looking out over the lake and the land we love and say – yes."

So says Richard Wagamese - an Ojibwe from the Wabaseemoong nation in Northwestern Ontario - in this book of memoirs, which reads more like a book of meditations. Full of deeply moving and highly emotional observations, he writes about the road he has travelled – from childhood abuse to adult alcoholism – in reclaiming his identity. There is truth and reconciliation in the words of this book and, ultimately, transcendence by taking the right path - taking control of one's life. I felt moved by passages on every page of this book.

"The sublime moments in life are like the first push of light against the lip of a mountain. You watch that pink climb higher becoming brighter, slipping into magenta, then orange, and then into the crisp, hard yellow of morning. As the light changes, you can forget the pink that drew your eye, and it's on mornings when you see it again that you recall how it touched you, altered things for you, gave you cause to celebrate.

This book was born in the hush of mornings."

Outsider Book JacketOutsider: An Old Man, a Mountain and the Search for a Hidden Past by Brett Popplewell

When journalist Brett Popplewell first heard about Dag Aabye, an 81-year-old man and aging former stuntman who lived alone inside a school bus on a mountain, running day and night through blizzards and heat waves, he was intrigued and bewildered. Captivated by the seemingly implausible tale of a wild super-athlete aging more slowly than the rest of us, he was determined to meet the apocryphal white-haired man who was pushing the boundaries of the human mind and body beyond what anyone could dream was possible. Outsider takes readers on a remarkable journey from Nazi-occupied Norway to Argentina and British Columbia… Both joyful and tragic, Outsider presents a bold challenge to our notions of aging, belonging, and human accomplishment (From the Pubisher)

This biography is perfect for fans of the outdoors and extreme sports! Despite his harsh and minimal existence, Dag manages to find beauty and positivity everywhere and is a wonderful example of anti-aging and longevity. This is a truly inspiring story of an optimistic soul and a testament to the human spirit.

Big Lonely Doug Book JacketBig Lonely Doug: the Story of Canada’s Last Great Trees by Harley Rusland

This book tells the story of a large Douglas fir tree named Big Lonely Doug, located in an old-growth forest near Port Renfrew, British Columbia, that was saved by a logger named Dennis Cronin, who tied a ribbon around its trunk saying, "leave tree." In telling this story, the author explores such topics as the ecology of old-growth forests and their future, the legend of the West Coast's big trees, the instability of the logging industry, the fight for preservation, the contention surrounding ecotourism, and First Nations land and resource rights. (From the publisher)

Rustad balances the views of activists, foresters, and Indigenous Nations, showing the changes in each party's approach to trees and logging across the centuries. Growing up on Vancouver Island and having visited many of the areas Cronin speaks about, Carmanah-Walbran, for one, it is hard to put into words just how majestic these temperature old growth rain forests are. The author does a great job of describing this biosphere, the symbiotic relationship between the flora and fauna, and how precious this ecology is.

A great read for anyone interested in environmental issues, activism, environmental politics, or who just loves nature!

Finding Ultra Book JacketFinding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age,Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men and Discovering myself by Rich Roll (cloudLibrary, eAudio)

On the night before he was to turn forty, Rich Roll experienced a chilling glimpse of his future. Nearly fifty pounds overweight and unable to climb the stairs without stopping, he could see where his current sedentary life was taking him—and he woke up.

Plunging into a new routine that prioritized a plant-based lifestyle and daily training, Rich morphed—in a matter of mere months—from out of shape, mid-life couch potato to endurance machine. Finding Ultra recounts Rich's remarkable journey to the starting line of the elite Ultraman competition, which pits the world's fittest humans in a 320-mile ordeal of swimming, biking, and running…(From the publisher)

This book urges each of us to embark on our own journey of self-discovery and gratitude. It encourages the reader to look at their life differently and seek out their passions, making changes they may have forgotten about or didn't know were needed. Roll's transformation is a fascinating account of what one can achieve mentally and physically through the power of

self-belief. It is also a positive argument for a plant-based and ecologically sustainable diet that challenges many nutritional experts' opinions on nutrition and uber athletics.

This book is amazingly inspirational.